I knew it was going to be a challenge today. It rained…HARD…all weekend, so I was curious what the field conditions would be like. Today we’d have not only the tractor in the new hopyard (a tractor that tips the scales at around 10,000lbs.), but the trailer as well. Not totally sure on the weight of the trailer, but quite certain it’s over 2,000lbs. as well. Additionally, we’d added black locust as the decking and were putting two levels of masonry grade scaffolding and planking on it. And oh yes, me on top as the cherry I guess 😉
My Dad had graciously scheduled two of his tennis buddies (and they graciously agreed to help!) to give us a hand this morning as the court would be too wet to play on anyway. I got to town early around 7am…had a beautiful drive up particularly through the valley with the mix of fog and sunshine. My first order of business was to get the tractor and the trailer to the dry, hard surface, to work on. I was able to use extra locust planks to give some footing to the tractor as I pulled it and the trailer out to the driveway.
The trailer, given its’ age and usage by the Municipality of Geistown, is in pretty good shape…the tires are another story. My Dad was quite stellar as he always is, and paid for 4 new tires as only 1 of the original four held air. We dropped off two of the rims last week so our local garage had those ready and waiting for us. I got the trailer jacked up and swapped out the tires without much fuss. It was about then Don and Mike showed up to help. We spent about 30 minutes bolting the scaffolding to the trailer and getting everything secured. We then packed up “Ol’e Blue” (Adam and Faith Seitz’s truck they were kind enough to lend to us…again!) and the other scaffolding, all the tools we’d need and headed down the driveway to Taft Road for a short jaunt to the Sportsmans road, then up to the hopyard. Having roads all around the property is an enormous blessing.
Field was wet for sure, but had drained pretty well. I led the way with the tractor and our couple hundred pounds of cable spool in the bucket into the field with the trailer and it looked like we’d be ok thankfully. The four of us then spent another 30 minutes or so assembling the second tier of the scaffolding and getting the planking in place…whoom! Takes a little getting used to being 15′ or so up on a platform in a field, but soon thereafter it felt quite normal. At around noon, our two buds Don and Mike had to head out so it was Dad and I for the rest of the afternoon.
We spent that afternoon until about 6pm drilling new eye hooks into the northern outermost poles in preparation for the cabling that would connect to anchors in the ground. Part of the time for me was simply spent learning how to navigate the tractor and trailer close enough to the poles so I could reach them from it, all the while not running either piece of equipment into them. By about the 5th pole, I finally got the system down.
I did quickly realize some improvements would drastically help our speed, efficiency and dare I say our safety up on the platform, especially when we have two people up there harvesting in the Fall. First was that although we had the proper planking for the scaffold, we were missing one plank so had about an 8″ gap on one side. The other was that to access the platform I had to climb a ladder, which we had to move every time we moved from pole to pole, that got me to the outside edge of the platform where I’d pull myself up and onto it. Bad enough for me, but I’d never ask anyone else to do that maneuver. So as a result, with the help of my Accuweather boss, Tom Carey, we drew up a design for a modular platform that would fill the entire area, incorporate a trap door in the floor for much easier access via a fixed ladder that was bolted to the scaffold and moved with the platform, and was simply much sturdier. Additionally I’ll be adding a bucket on a rope to quickly pass tools and supplies up and down, as well as some sort of draping inside the railing to keep objects such as tools, screws, etc. from falling to the ground.
The next trip up will be on Saturday, not the typical Farm Monday. It’ll be busy as our Irrigation Technical Service Provider will be visiting our Farm for an assessment of our irrigation plans and needs. We’ll be constructing the new platform I mentioned in the previous paragraph, and hopefully in between the forecasted thunderstorms, are able to rig more cables, brushwack the planting areas and poles and possibly do a first till of the beds, we’ll see.
As always…slowly but surely…coming together 🙂